That’s how many calories are on the typical Thanksgiving Day dinner plate.
Sounds like a lot, right? Well, it adds up fast when your menu consists of turkey, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese and buttered dinner rolls.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to NOT eat the things you love; and I definitely don’t want you to count calories. I just want to provide some perspective and food for thought for you to have on your radar as we head into the holiday season. Here are my go-to tips for fully enjoying your Thanksgiving without having to ride out an ultra uncomfortable food coma!
- Eat Breakfast. Going into a Thanksgiving feast starving never ends well. Eating an early morning meal of protein and healthy fat will help you to feel satiated and less likely to over consume throughout the day.
- Get a workout in before the meal. Combined with a healthy breakfast, exercise sets your metabolism for the day and will help you make better food choices. Hit up your local Turkey Trot or take a brisk walk. If you’re in the Lake Norman area, we will offer several Thanksgiving Day workout options at CrossFit Cornelius and C2 FHIT. I’d love for you to join us!
- Drink lots of water before and during your Thanksgiving meal. Water helps your stomach stay full to avoid overeating and assists the gut in digestion. Soft drinks and sweet tea just add unnecessary sugar and calories to your meal.
- Use a smaller plate. Swap out that huge dinner plate for a smaller one. You’ll still fill it with the food you want, but portion sizes will be more appropriate.
- Be mindful as you fill your plate. Start by putting one to two palm sized portions of turkey in the middle of your plate. With the remaining space, fill half to three-quarters with colorful vegetables. Then add on the side items that you consider to be your favorites or ones that you only have on holidays. Keep serving sizes small as you really only need a few bites to feel satisfied.
- Decide if it’s really worth it. Just because it’s on the table doesn’t mean you have to eat it. As you are moving through the buffet line, ask yourself, is this food really worth it? My mom’s homemade sweet potato casserole? Heck yea! Canned cranberry sauce? No thank you.
- Eat slowly. Engage in conversation. Enjoy the moment. Once your plate is empty, wait a minimum of ten minutes before returning for a second helping. This gives your brain and gut a chance to communicate to let you know just how full your stomach actually is.
- Leave the table when you are finished eating. Physically removing yourself will keep you from snacking after the meal and allow your brain and gut time to do their thing and send necessary satiety and satiation signals.
- Practice portion control with desserts. Thanksgiving is definitely one of those days when you should exercise your food freedom and enjoy a dessert that you love. Here’s the deal: There is no need to eat all five of the desserts being served. Even if they are small portions. You are more likely to over consume if you serve yourself “a little” of each dessert. It’s best to choose one that you really want, savor every bite and then call it quits for the day!
- If you end up over indulging and in a serious food coma, don’t panic; but also don’t let it lead you down a slippery slope of unhealthy eating habits for days to come. Ride it out, pull it together and get back on track the next day! Give me a call if you need some tough love to get through it.